Mrs. Beeton’s Hodge Podge Stew

Beef Stew on a wooden board

Mrs. Beeton’s Hodge Podge Stew ~ move over Martha and Nigella, Isabella Beeton was the original domestic goddess. This classic beef stew recipe is from her Book of Household Management, 1861!

Mrs. Beeton's Hodge Podge Stew ~ This classic beef stew recipe is from her Book of Household Management, 1861! #beef #stew #victorian #British #dinner #comfortfood

Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, published in London in 1861, is a 1,112 page guidebook for Victorian ladies. It includes instructions for every member of a bustling middle class Victorian household, from the mistress herself, down through the chain of command to the housekeeper, cook, butler, footman, coachman, valet, laundry-maid, nurse-maid, wet-nurse and many more.

She includes advice on everything from legal matters, to hiring servants, to choosing the most suitable colors for a ladies’ wardrobe. A reader can look up how to clean their butter churn, make boot polish (it contains treacle and olive oil!)  or exactly how to slaughter an ox. Aspiring Victorian social climbers could pick up invaluable insight into polite society, including the admonition that under no circumstances should a lady ‘gargle the mouth’ with the fingertip water that is brought around to clean genteel fingers at the end of a fine meal.

This was the first book to compile recipes in the format that we’re familiar with today, with lists of ingredients first and instructions following. She compiled over 900 recipes illustrated with colorful engravings, all before she died at the age of 28, after the birth of her fourth child. But she did a lot more than just present recipes…

“In the department belonging to the Cook I have striven, too, to make my work something more than a Cookery Book, and have, therefore, on the best authority that I could obtain, given an account of the natural history of the animals and vegetables which we use as food. I have followed the animal from his birth to his appearance on the table; have described the manner of feeding him, and of slaying him, the position of his various joints, and, after giving the recipes, have described the modes of carving Meat, Poultry, and Game.

Beef Stew on a wooden board

It was definitely a challenge to choose a recipe from Mrs. Beeton’s book, not so much because of the sheer number of choices, but because the Victorian methods and ingredients are often foreign to the modern palate. In her introduction to the Cookery section of the book Mrs. Beeton makes a typically Victorian (and racist) connection between the relative complexity of food preparation, and civilization. Maybe this explains why her instructions for vegetables involve such  ‘extended’ boiling times and so many of the illustrations look more like Easter bonnets than food!

But I managed to find something that appealed to me. As I said yesterday, there’s a hint of fall in the air these days, so I felt this simple stew would be a good choice. The addition of pale ale is very British, and the smell while it was cooking was wonderful. I think Isabella would approve of my decision to use the crock pot…she was a great champion of the most modern kitchens.

Notes ~

  • I halved the ingredients for my version, and used beef round instead of beef shin.
  • I also used way less water than called for, about 2 cups for the half recipe because I wanted more of a stew.
  • I threw it all in the slow cooker for about 6 hours.
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3.29 from 7 votes

Mrs. Beeton’s HODGE PODGE (exactly as from the Book of Household Management)

Author Sue Moran

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. of shin of beef
  • 3 quarts of water
  • 1 pint of table-beer
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 turnips
  • 1 head of celery
  • pepper and salt to taste
  • thickening of butter and flour.

Instructions

  • Put the meat, beer, and water in a stewpan; simmer for a few minutes, and skim carefully.
  • Add the vegetables and seasoning; stew gently till the meat is tender.
  • Thicken with the butter and flour, and serve with turnips and carrots, or spinach and celery.
  • Time.—3 hours, or rather more.
  • Sufficient for 12 persons.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

You can read the Book of Household Management in its entirety at the Project Gutenburg online book site. I recommend it.

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15 Comments

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  • Reply
    Victoria
    August 13, 2011 at 10:30 am

    hahaha well i suppose my hubby is a man of inferior race…as we frequently eat and drink…and rarely dine! Also…grouse season started yesterday in scotland so…third course…grouse and bread sauce could be on my table soon!! (though i doubt it) yummy Fall stew, have a great weekend 🙂

  • Reply
    La Vie Quotidienne
    August 13, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I love reading books about food history and all of the people involved, it is fascinating but have never tried making one of the recipes…nice to see that it turned out so well. The oldest cookbook that I have…and use, is The Joy of Cooking. Have a great day!

  • Reply
    My Farmhouse Kitchen
    August 13, 2011 at 12:41 am

    love love love it !!! i have mrs. beeton cookbooks too..i love them…so old fashion…gotta love that..not to mention…farmy !!!!

    loos like a great stew…i am READY !!!!

    thanks for stopping by

    it was good to see you, my friend

    kary

  • Reply
    Maris (In Good Taste)
    August 13, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Fascinating post. Love to read about things in the past, especially relating to cooking. You=r blog is wonderful and your pictures are fantatsic!

  • Reply
    Kathy
    August 12, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Very nice post and a lovely meal! I think that Isabella would have approved of the slow cooker method! Have a nice weekend!

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